According to newly published research, a supervised exercise program can have beneficial effects on the physical and mental well-being of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and reduce the need for corticosteroid medications.
Portuguese scientists conducted a study that put a group of RA patients through a three-month program of moderate aerobic and strengthening exercises for 50-60 minutes three times per week.
The researchers noted a 33 percent improvement in the Health Assessment Questionnaire disability index measurement of physical functioning which assesses the ability to undertake everyday activities such as dressing, eating and walking, and whether assistance from another person or disability aids is required.
In addition to that, 62 percent of the participants said they needed less corticosteroids, and 32 percent reported stopping any NSAID therapy following the exercise program.
Mental health also received a boost, with nearly 40 percent reporting improvement in depression symptoms.
Dr Miguel Sousa of Instituto Portugues de Rheumatology in Lisbon says that exercise may seem undesirable for people who suffer from stiff and painful joints.
However, he stresses that, "our study has demonstrated that regular and supervised moderate aerobic and strengthening exercises may be extremely beneficial for both a patient’s physical and mental health, with a corresponding effect on quality of life."